We caught up with Huw Stephens who gave us some of his top tips for unsigned artists. Reminding us to be passionate, support others, advice regarding booking agents and managers and more!
Ex BBC Radio 1 and current BBC 6 Music and Radio Cymru DJ Huw Stephens is a staunch supporter of new music and independent artistry. Over the past 23 years, his work in radio, television and the music press has seen him champion the likes of Lorde, Haim, The 1975, Disclosure, Bastille and Slaves, offering them their first taste of widespread exposure.
With such a vast amount of industry experience, the music-mad Welshman is incredibly well informed in what’s required to break new artists. So, at BIMM Institute Bristol’s graduation ceremony, we stole a few brief moments with the man himself to hear his top tips for new artists. Here’s what he said:
It’s tough getting noticed. But if you have ideas, creativity and a vision, stick to it – at least until there really are no other options. If you look at a band like Idles from Bristol, they’ve been doing it for years, you know?
Success doesn’t come overnight. And I think that’s true in everything you do in the music industry. If you have a passion, if you put yourself out there in situations where you can meet people, I think that’s important.
Getting involved in communities is essential as well. Because if you support your local community, they will support you back – whether you’re a sound engineer, a manager, an artist, or whatever. People want to work with creative, talented, dedicated people.
Do I need a manager or booking agents early on?
If you’re outstanding, managers and booking agents will come and find you. But, before you worry about all those things that more significant artists have, concentrate on the art of what you’re doing. Concentrate on songwriting, gigging, stimulating a fan base, and the rest of those sorts of things will come looking for you.
You can go looking for it yourself, of course. And that’s a good positive thing to do. If anything, just to try and understand that part of the industry. That’s a good thing to do. But I’d say, figure out who you are as an artist first before worrying about that side of things.
The BIMM Institute advantage
People who’ve studied at BIMM Institute have an obvious advantage because they have some understanding of the industry already, which is a considerable advantage compared to somebody who might just be making music without too much direction.
Find your strengths
Find out where your strengths are. You might be a songwriter, but you might end up wanting to write for other people. You might decide you want to be a manager rather than an artist. You might find your strengths lie elsewhere in areas like promoting gigs rather than playing them, and vice versa.
And remember, keep your options open!